Learn about Life in the 1920s

1920 Over-Blouse Dress Description

A survey of this Service will show a preference for dark colors and a majority of plain fabrics. And here, again, we must tell of a costume developed in dark color and of a plain fabric, but these features are so definitely the fashion and, as a rule, so much more becoming than lighter colors or figured materials that we are glad to encourage them.

Dress Style

This dress seems to need no emphasis as to its virtues, for like a beautiful stream or landscape it seems right for its place. The long waist, the Tuxedo collar and tunic-apron effect, with their appropriate embroidery, the cascade hip, and combination sash—all give delightful expression of the mode. The plump woman may say, "beautiful for a slender figure, but not appropriate for me." But the cascade fulness over the hips can be easily omitted and the sash of the waist brought down on the figure and made less full. In this way, an appearance of length may be provided, and the smart cascade and bouffant waist-line effect left for the new dress for the slender sister.


The popularity of plain fabrics may be credited entirely to the dominance of velvet and luxurious satin. These two materials are perhaps the most beautiful of all materials and this season rightly occupy the choice place in the wardrobe. A deep-brown velvet with gold embroidery and a pale corn-color vest, a brown-velvet turban with corn-color aigrette, brown suede shoes, and deep-ivory kid gloves would indeed make a sumptuous costume. Or, brown or blue satin, black, henna, or taupe velvet—any of these colors in soft, rich material would make possible a beautiful dress for afternoon wear if developed according to this model.

The embroidery, in almost every instance, should be delicate in design, preferably of dull gold or silver. For the embroidery pattern, try imitating the original design on light-weight paper. Practice until you get a good outline; then you can trace this as many times as you desire and baste the tracing over the material to be embroidered. Place the embroidery stitches right over the pattern, for the tissue paper can be pulled away when the design is complete. One precaution that should be observed in the making of any dress is to let much of its beauty be dependent on its simplicity; watch carefully that you do not overtrim.

Kimono or set-in sleeves may be used; the latter, however, will prove safer in the heavy, soft materials, with the exception of velvets. The set-in sleeve is pleasing in this type of dress, as it gives a good balance line with the cascade lines in the skirt. If the kimono sleeve is used, then perhaps a panel back will prove desirable. If set-in sleeves are provided, the panel will not be so necessary.

Dress Material and Pattern.

For an average figure, 5 yards of 40-inch material is required to develop this dress. A piece of Georgette, fine lace, or net 12 inches square is sufficient for the vest. The waist portion of McCall pattern No. 9395 may be used as a guide in cutting the waist of this design, although several changes will be required in the development of the muslin to make it an exact duplicate. In cutting the muslin waist model, leave surplus material below the waist line of the pattern so that this may be draped on the figure to give just the desired effect.

For the skirt, cut two skirt lengths of material. Then make provision for the cascade effect by forming a half-bias seam edge on both sides of each of these sections, tapering them from the full 40-inch width at the top to a 26-inch width at the lower edge. This will make the skirt a trifle less than 2 1/4 yards at the top and 1 1/2 yards at the lower edge.

If the width of the material you are using is not sufficient to permit ample fulness at the waist line and in the cascade portions by cutting the material in this manner, cut sections for the cascades separate from the skirt. These may be inserted in the side seams and will not prove at all objectionable. Form the pattern for the separate cascade by experimenting with muslin.

For the apron, cut a straight piece 24 inches wide and four-fifths of the skirt length; this will make the width about two-thirds of the length. In cutting the collar, sash, and apron edges, allow at least 3/4 inch to be turned back in the finish. Provide for the cuff a bias strip of material about 5 1/2 inches wide and 3 inches longer than the width at the lower edge of the sleeve.

Dress Construction.

Join the half-bias seam edges of the skirt section by means of a plain seam. Also, stitch the waist-line edges together from the side seams for a distance of about 10 inches, to provide a finish for that portion of the waist line which is to be left free to form the upper edge of the cascade effect. Then either press or steam these seams open, according to the kind of material you are working with. Clip away the surplus material at the corner so that when this section is turned right side out a very flat finish will result and the corner will not be bulky. Arrange for the opening of the skirt at the left side front so that it will be concealed with the apron, and finish this with a continuous placket.

Skirt lengths varying from 7 to 12 inches from the floor are now in evidence. This ample latitude is given so that one may choose the length that is most becoming from the viewpoint of age, type, and even the style of the dress, for a model with a long tunic requires a slightly longer foundation than would prove becoming in another design.

If you are making the dress of velvet, finish the waist, collar, cuff, sash, and apron edges by turning them back 3/4 inch, or the allowance made in cutting, and without turning under the raw edge of the velvet, catch-stitching them with comparatively loose stitches. Use sufficient care in doing this work to prevent the edge from appearing drawn and the stitches from showing on the right side.

In finishing satin or soft taffeta, first have the extreme edges hemstitched and cut close to the hemstitching; then turn the edges back and catch-stitch them down with the same precautions regarding the stitches. Gather the upper edge of the vest and bind it with a narrow strip of self-material.

If you wish to make a particularly nice finish for the collar, cuffs, girdle ends, and apron section, line them with Georgette crepe of a matching color, slip-stitching the lining close to the inner edge of the turned-back portion.

Adjust the fulness of the skirt to the stay belt of the waist lining, which has been cut to come just outside of the vest line of the waist so that it will not show under the sheer material. Adjust the cascade effect in the skirt, and to hold this in position properly tack it at several intervals to a tape suspended from the waist line underneath, tacking so that the stitches will be concealed under the folds of the cascade. Then secure the apron effect in position.

Next pin the vest to the lining; then put the blouse on over the lining and adjust the vest to occupy the right space. Drape the girdle and plan where the blouse portion should be tacked to the lining; usually this is done at the shoulder and the waist line. Some prefer to have the blouse entirely separate, contending that it has an easier appearance when entirely free from the lining. But even if the blouse is not secured to the lining, do not omit it, for it provides a smooth foundation and serves as a protection to the dress.

To form the cuff effect that is illustrated, bring the bands, which have been previously finished, around the lower edge of the sleeve and lap them in reverse of their usual position; then pin and tack them in place on the plain sleeve, which has first been finished by means of a turned-back catch-stitched edge.

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Related Articles: 1920 Fall-Winter Ladies Fashions | Waist-Line Dress | One-Piece Coat Dress | Tuxedo-Scarf Dress | Long-Waisted Dress | Kimono Waist-Line Dress | Long-Tunic Dress | Straight-Line Dress | Over-blouse Dress